Let’s be real. Fans and media love to role play as the general manager. Ship out your lesser players because someone will surely see the potential you once saw in exchange for a player who has already reached his peak. Toss in another less player or unneeded draft pick, and all is kosher. But the real world is a little more complicated, and Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will be somewhat constrained by market forces and history if he trades Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry.
It’s not easy to trade goalies.
Sure, there is a growing school of thought that goalies are born of situation and structure. Rookies won three of the last four Stanley Cups. Penguins “rookie” goalie Matt Murray did it twice, and St. Louis Blues puck stopper Jordan Binnington is the reigning Cup champ.
The Chicago Blackhawks also won a Stanley Cup in 2010 in front of Antti Niemi. In 2013, Chicago won with Corey Crawford in his third season. Crawford had not yet distinguished himself as an unquestioned starting NHL goalie until that time.
Good goalies stick around. Better ones stick around and get paid generous sums.
Quick, think of the last big goalie trade. Over the previous eight years, there have been six trades for starting goalies, or goalies of note.
6 NHL Trades
- At the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, Chicago sent 1A goalie Robin Lehner to Vegas for Malcolm Subban, defensive prospect Slava Demin, and a second-round pick.
Colorado took on Brooks Orpik’s contract to get Washington Capitals backup Philip Grubauer in the summer of 2018. Colorado gave up a second-round pick, too.
San Jose acquired Martin Jones from Boston for a prospect and first-round pick in 2015. (That was a tricky trade as Jones’s original team, the LA Kings, refused to trade Jones to San Jose. Instead, LA traded Jones to the Boston Bruins who flipped him to San Jose four days later).
In 2015, Arizona traded aging Mike Smith to Calgary for depth pieces and a third-round pick.
Young Jacob Markstrom was part of the Roberto Luongo trade in 2014. Markstrom is the Vancouver starting goalie but has not slammed the door behind him.
Ben Bishop has been traded four times as teams hoped the big goalie would fulfill his promise. Bishop didn’t catch his stride until 2013, with his third team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ottawa received a grinder and a fourth-rounder. Bishop eventually lost his starting job in Tampa Bay, and there wasn’t a great trade market. LA acquired Bishop as a rental for a fourth-rounder.
In 2012, Washington traded Seymon Varlamov for one first and one second-round pick. Varlamov had just 59 NHL games experience but was a recent first-round pick with a world of promise.
What is Tristan Jarry’s worth?
It’s fair to compare Jarry to Martin Jones or Philip Grubauer. Jarry did not finish the job and firmly take away the net from Murray, much in the same way Grubauer couldn’t close the deal over Braden Holtby in Washington.
So, from the framework, on the high end, Jarry is worth a late first-rounder, or solid second-round pick and perhaps a sweetener. Based on the Grubauer deal, Rutherford could acquire an add-on, or he could use the Jarry deal to purge a contract.
What to Watch For: Teams with the ability to gamble. There are too many teams to count which could be tempted by Jarry. To avoid starting rumors, we won’t speculate. Everywhere from Vancouver to New Jersey will have to solidify their goalie situation, and a moderately priced All-Star who wants the chance will be alluring.
Rebuilding Chicago doesn’t have a goalie locked up for next season, either.
If the Pittsburgh Penguins deal Jarry, history suggests they may get a better haul because Jarry won’t make maximum coin.
Murray’s value is far more complex.
Murray’s career save percentage in the regular season is .914. More importantly, Murray is 28-19 with a .921 save percentage in the playoffs. And therein lies Murray’s biggest selling point.
Murray’s subjective value is similar to Bishop and Lehner. By CBA rules, unless the Penguins or controlling team refused to offer Murray a qualifying offer, he will make at least $4.1 million or more next season, which limits his trade value.
After four-plus seasons, Matt Murray is likely about to reach his peak, but that also means peak paychecks.
Instead of teams on the rise or hoping to retool quickly, Murray will attract big fish. Organizations that have Stanley Cup potential will be the sharks circling Murray. PHN confidently reported Colorado had preliminary conversations.
For the Murray market, look at teams who need to win big games. Carolina seems to be an obvious choice, though they also reside in the Metro Division with the Penguins.
What to Watch: Carolina, Colorado, and Edmonton have high hopes, but shaky or unproven netminders. Edmonton is an especially compelling case as backup goalie Mikko Koskinen was handed a two-year, $9 million contract. Edmonton has the top scorers in the NHL, and a big-game goalie being pushed by a 1A might go along way towards another Cup bathed in Oil.
Teams without a bonafide starter or waiting prospect: Buffalo, Chicago, and Detroit.
Could Buffalo and former Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill make a play for Tristan Jarry or Matt Murray to quell unhappy fans and settle their net?
Complicating Factors: There are other goalies who will be on the market, including Lehner (or maybe Marc-Andre Fleury if Vegas chooses Lehner). Corey Crawford will be on the market if Chicago doesn’t dish a new deal.
Always remember the laws of supply and demand. As goalies drop off the market, the Penguins goalies become more valuable. As more teams make goalies available, that may weaken one GM who gambles on another netminder.